Written by Tharushan Fernando
15 Feb, 2017 | 8:01 pm
Two Memorandums of Understanding in the fields of economic development and sports were signed between Sri Lanka and Australia toda .
The signing took place when Prime Minsiter Ranil Wickremesinghe met his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull as part of his three-day official visit.
The visiting Sri Lankan delegation including the Prime Minister was welcomed by the Australian PM with a guard of honour. The two memorandums of understanding were signed thereafter. The MoU on sports development was signed between the Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekara and his Australian counterpart Greg Hunt. The MoU for Development Cooperation was signed between Bryce Hutchesson, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Secretary to the Ministry of Finance R.H.S Samaratunga.
Mr.Turnbull’s predecessor, Tony Abott was criticised by PM Wickremesinghe during the past for “essentially turning a blind eye to the human rights abuses” that were committed by his predecessor, Mr Rajapaksa “in order to secure cooperation on people smuggling.”
PM Wickremesinghe in response to questions raised regarding this matter said that there could have been more emphasis on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, but now that’s over and there is no long-term damage to the relationship.
“Tony Abbott is known to me and we felt that there could have been more emphasis on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Now, that’s over. We are back in power”, he said.
Following the meeting, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe stated to the media that the Sri Lankans that left illegally are welcome to return to the island without having to fear prosecution
“They left Sri Lanka illegally. They are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won’t prosecute them. So, they can come back to Sri Lanka and we will help them but remember they broke the law to come to Australia, attempting to come to Australia…”
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